Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne men’s basketball team opened up Atlantic 10 play this week with a huge win over the Fordham Rams 87-81 Wednesday night at the Palumbo Center to improve their record to 8-5 and their win streak to five games.
The Red & Blue entered the conference matchup of the season on a three game winning streak and their opening performance against the Rams last night showed they wanted to keep that streak alive.
Senior forward Ovie Soko, who is averaging a team high 18.1 points per game this season, offered up 20 points just in the first half including a now trademark dunk assisted by sophomore Derrick Colter at the 7:51 mark. The Dukes led Fordham by as much as 16 in the first 20 minutes of action thanks to a strong defensive effort by players such as Soko and junior Dominique McKoy.
Duquesne returned to the court looking to bring their first half dominance into the second to seal their fifth consecutive win. The Dukes led by as much as 21 during the half but the Rams were able to start a rally and bring the deficit back to eight with a little over four minutes left to play.
A late three-pointer brought it even closer four Fordham but it seemed that every time the Rams made a basket, the Red and Blue had an answer. With only minutes remaining, the Dukes found themselves only up by three in a nail-biting finish that had everyone in the stadium on the edge of their seats. The men were fortunately able to hold off the Ram offensive and walked off the court with a win and a 1-0 conference record.
Soko and Colter led the Dukes in scoring with 29 and 14 points respectively. Soko and McKoy led their team in rebounds with 9 by Soko and 10 by McKoy. McKoy had a double-double while Soko had his fifth straight 20 point game.
Soko was excited to get the first conference win of the season in the first conference game.
“It’s huge, but I feel the key for us now really is treating every game like it’s our Super Bowl,” Soko said. “Especially in the A10, wins are so hard to come by but we are definitely happy to get our first win.”
Sophomore guard Jeremiah Jones is impressed with the way the team has grown closer this year.
“I think we are more of a closely knitted team,” Jones said. “We’re a family. It’s not about one guy and we have great leadership. I think that is something we lacked last year.”
He agreed with Soko that getting the first conference win of the season is a huge deal to the team.
“It was definitely good to get the first win and we don’t just want to win one game,” Jones said. “We expect to win more and just get better.”
Despite having a second half meltdown, coach Jim Ferry said the team had a solid game.
“I thought it was a very hard fought basketball game,” Ferry said. “ I thought we were locked in. I thought we came out and played great. We really defended with a purpose.”
The Dukes will finish off their three game home stand this Sunday when they take on the La Salle University Explorers back at the A.J. Palumbo Center as they try to extend their winning streak to six games. The game tip-off is at 2:30 p.m. and will be nationally broadcasted on the NBC Sports Network.